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The 10 a Side Game

Poster designed by AP Media for Cobra Rugby Club

The game has grown. What started in Malaysia, has now been adopted regionally, gone to Cape Town, Australia and as far as Helsinki. The format is also widely used at the Junior Level. In fact, World Rugby Get Into Rugby Programs promotes the 10 a side game as well.

What’s the Appeal?

Unlike sevens rugby, tens offer players of diverse skills, capabilities and different fitness levels the opportunity to continue to enjoy the game they love so much. The more traditional scrums and line-outs are part of the game whilst the fact that there is a bit more space on the field, however not too much as to expose the slower forwards on the defensive lines, makes this a very popular game for all levels of players. (Taken from Wikipedia.)

Veterans Category. Pick and Go if it's available. A little Forward play.

All Levels? All age groups too!

Some years back, me and my family went to a tournament. My youngest son, was playing touch in the U7 category. My eldest played U12 rugby. I was coaching the Under 16 team and played for the Veterans Category over 35 years. My wife would have played for the ladies category but the team couldn’t round up enough players.

It was a family holiday centred around playing rugby! And we weren’t the only ones doing that!

On that note, Have you ever heard a Veterans 7-a-side Rugby Tournament? Exactly.

Inclusiveness and Participation.

At the junior level, it’s all about development. Learn the game, the skills, the values and culture and have fun too! The under rated aspect is Inclusiveness and Participation.

How? Play 7 a side, that 1 or 2 superstars will probably end up running rings round the opposition. If you’re not the superstar or slow, you’re not getting the ball. What about 15s? Imagine 9-year-old kids learning the nuances of pods, mauls and territorial kicking. Better yet, form a defensive line? OR worse yet, 2 kids spend the whole game just doing their best to avoid the game by being away from the ball.

U12 cat. 5 man scrum (less 2 flankers & a no. 8). Right up to U11, Scrums are non-contested. Learn the Scrum safely.

The 10-a-side provides, to some degree, a balance. You can still find your shine even if it means just catching the ball on the run. If you’re fearful or shy, the ball will find you one way or another and you will have to give it a go. They also get to try out different positions and learn all elements of the game. Initially, I had put a player in the forwards simply because he was big. He requested to try and play at wing, and found that he had a natural instinct in covering that position.

What about the Higher Levels of Competition?

During Cobra 10s International 2018 tournament, I asked one of the coaches from NNK of South Africa about what he thought of the 10-a-side game.

“In 10s, you can have a proper forward on the field.”

To great effect, in 2019, Brandon Grant represented NNK and used his Forward skills to great effect carrying the ball significant meters and lay a platform for his backs. The Global Lions used their size advantage in dominating the scrums.

Brimbank Bucks relied a fair bit on their No.10 to dictate the play, with great running lines and timed passes to create space for the backs to do damage. RMAF Blackhawks made great use of their speed and silky passes the ball every time went into open play. Home team Cobra made good use of the set-piece and phase play to win the tournament.

Which brings the case that from 10s, you can transition to play 15s or to play 7s. Based on armchair (what was obvious to me from watching the series on TV) the only 7s player who also plays 15s consistently is Nathan Kiriyama of Canada.

Cobra 10s International is another good showcase of the 10-a-side game. Check out the video below. Video is owned by Cobra Rugby Club.

Note: The 10-a-side game was created in Malaysia by the Cobra Rugby Club almost 50 years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBRA_Rugby_Tens

There are other formats which is being promoted like Xrugby (7 a side, reduced pitch) and RugbyX (5 a side). It'll be interesting to see how the format grows in time. Overall, there is a holistic element that the 10-a-side game that brings: More rugby positions that can be played. You get to stay in the game longer. Inclusiveness. Family Friendly. Without a Doubt, still play a good game of rugby.


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